FUGU – JAPANESE DISH MADE OF POISONOUS FISH
Japanese cuisine is famous for fish dishes. Japan is a global leader when it comes to eating seafood and fish. As a result, the menus of Japanese restaurants offer a number of dishes unavailable in Europe. Fugu, a dish made of poisonous fish, is one of them.
The fugu poisonous fish is Japan's national delicacy. You may want to try this unique and at the same time risky dish while in Japan but remember to eat it only in a certified place. Consuming a poorly prepared fish can lead to severe poisoning or even death. The poison in fugu is more dangerous than cyanide. As a result, Japan has introduced restrictive regulations as regards the serving of this lethal fish. Recently, these regulations have been changing, which will make restaurant owners' lives easier, increasing the risk of poisoning for the customers. A few to about a dozen people are estimated to die every year after eating fugu. Only perfectly cleaned meat is edible, while the majority of the entrails and blood of the fish are poisonous. Curiously enough, fugu is the only dish that is not served to the Japanese emperor.
Fugu – occurrence
Fugu, also known as pufferfish Takifugu in Japanese) occurs in estuaries – in salty and brackish water. It can be encountered in the north-western part of the Pacific Ocean and in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and the western part of the Sea of Japan. Fugu can reach a maximum length of 80 cm.
How does fugu taste?
When properly and safely prepared, fugu is considered a national delicacy in Japan. The taste of the fish is inimitable and incredibly delicate. The cooks believe that the danger the dish entails is an additional asset. The last meal is always the best – this is attitude is reflected in the low popularity of the bred non-poisonous variety of fugu when compared to the original.
How to prepare fugu
Cooks licensed to prepare fugu must be properly qualified. Preparing the poisonous fish is incredibly difficult due to the quantity of substances hazardous to human health contained inside it. Japanese restaurants keep the fish alive, to be admired by the customers in aquariums. Cooks first carefully remove the fish entrails, preventing them from breaking and poisoning the whole dish. Once the meat is clean (with blood removed), it is cut with a special knife – fugu hiki. Fugu is usually served as sashimi, with lemon, chives, turnip, soy sauce and a pinch of chili. The dish is decorated with boiled fish skin and grilled fins.
Danger always invokes curiosity, which is why so many tourists decide to treat themselves to the eccentric and expensive (about PLN 250 per person) fugu dish. The risk is substantial so before trying the dish, first make sure that the cook is fully qualified.